President Donald Trump‘s administration is telling political allies and conservative organizations to brace for a potential departure from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgwhose health has been deteriorating in recent months.


Ginsburg, 85, missed three straight days this week — Monday through Wednesday — for the first time in her 25-year career as a judge on the nation’s highest court. The liberal icon — who has suffered many illnesses, including cancer, throughout her life — underwent surgery late last month to remove two cancerous nodes in her lungs. She also broke three ribs after falling in November, just days after the midterm elections.

According to Politico, a source said the White House “is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process.”

Should Ginsburg die or retire from the court, Trump would have the opportunity to name his third Supreme Court justice since taking office in January 2017. Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia in early 2017, and last year nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace 82-year-old Anthony Kennedywho announced his retirement in June.

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Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were a highly publicized event, as the 53-year-old conservative judge’s nomination was marred by accusations of sexual assault and harassment brought forth by multiple women. One of Kavanaugh’s accusers, psychology researcher Dr. Christine Blasey Forddelivered an emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, as did Kavanaugh, over an alleged assault that occurred in 1982. Trump’s nomination of another conservative justice would push the Supreme Court’s leaning even further to the right, which means rulings on many issues including abortion and gay rights could likely be in staunch opposition to women and the LGBT community. Currently, the Supreme Court counts five conservative judges and four liberal justices.

Conservative groups spent more than $7 million on advertisements supporting Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

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